Kerry Cerra is the author of the award-winning, middle-grade novel Just a Drop of Water. This debut book won a Florida Book Award, the Crystal Kite Award, and was named to VOYAs Top Shelf Fiction for Middle Readers’ 2014 list. In addition, the book was a finalist for the 2015-2016 Maine Student Book Award, the 2016-2017 Truman Award (Missouri), the 2017-2018 Garden State Teen Book Award (New Jersey), and won runner-up for the 2016-2017 Magnolia Award (Mississippi). Kerry holds a degree in Social Science Education from the University of South Florida and continues to use her teaching skills in author presentations at schools across the country. For the last nine years she has served as the Critique Coordinator for SCBWI-FL. Though she’ll always consider South Jersey/Philly her home, she currently lives and enjoys the sunshine in Florida with her husband, kids, and two poorly behaved rescue dogs.
Patrick Collins is the Creative Director for Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. Patrick art directs and designs picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. Some of the recent picture books he has worked on are: A Boy, A Mouse, and a Spider, illustrated by Lauren Castillo; Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics, illustrated by Rafael Lopez; Cricket in the Thicket, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; Dogosaurus Rex, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes; and Pablo in the Snow by Rosalind Bonnet. Recent novel projects include: Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel and In the Shadow of Liberty. Patrick studied art at Northeastern University in Boston.
Shutta Crum is the author of thirteen picture books, three novels, and numerous poems and articles. Her Thunder-Boomer! was an American Library Association and a Smithsonian Magazine “Notable Book” of the year. Mine! was listed by the New York Times as “one of the best board books of the year.” Thomas and the Dragon Queen made the Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award List 2013-2014. Many of her books have made the Bank Street Best Books Lists and have been short-listed for state awards. In 2005, she was asked to read at the White House. And in 2010 she was invited to speak to American students in Japan about writing. Her newest picture book Mouseling’s Words is garnering glowing reviews. PW says: “…a tribute to the way books can unite even the unlikeliest of friends.” Booklist says, “This earnest and encouraging title fits on the shelf of books for book-lovers ….” And Kirkus Reviews sums it up as, “Encouraging lovely words.”
Jennie Dunham (AAR and SCBWI member) has been a literary agent in New York City since 1992. In August 2000 she founded Dunham Literary, Inc. Her clients have been New York Times bestsellers and have won awards such as Boston Globe Horn Book Honor, New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, the Charlotte Zolotow Award, and International Reading Association Award. Her agency represents children’s books for all ages from novelty and picture book through middle grade and young adult as well as literary fiction and non-fiction for adults.
Amy Fitzgerald is an editor at Lerner Publishing Group, a children’s and young-adult publisher in Minneapolis, where she has worked with a variety of fiction and nonfiction formats for a wide spectrum of ages. She currently acquires and edits middle-grade and young-adult novels for Carolrhoda Books/Lab, Lerner’s trade fiction imprint, and oversees Darby Creek, Lerner’s high-interest, low-reading-level fiction imprint. Amy lives in Minneapolis.
Sylvie Frank is a senior editor at Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster. She is the editor of award-winning and critically acclaimed books inluding Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo; Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber by Sue Macy, illustrated by C.F. Payne; OCDaniel by Wesley King; and Storm by Donna Jo Napoli. Since Joining Paula Wiseman Books, Sylvie has been on the prowl for literary, character-driven middle grade and kid-focused snappy picture books. She is drawn to original voices across all genres. One of her favorite pastimes is browsing agents’ and illustrators’ websites for new talent. When she’s not reading, Sylvie can be found running while listening to audiobooks.
Lee Bennett Hopkins is an award-winning author and anthologist who is equally renowned as a strong and generous advocate in support of poetry for young people, including his sponsorship of several awards for other poets. Some of the many honors Lee has received include his 2017 induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame; the 2016 Regina Medal; the 2010 Florida Libraries Lifetime Achievement Award; the 2009 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children; the 1989 University of Southern Mississippi Book Festival Medallion; and a 1995 Christopher Award for Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life. A longtime New Yorker, Lee now makes his home in Cape Coral, Florida.
Zebo Ludvicek graduated with a BFA from the University of Maryland. The rest, as they say, is art history. Today, Zebo takes commissions for murals and portraits from NYC to Key West. Her most well known mural in Sarasota being The Monkey Bar at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. Her illustrations have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. Mouse is Zebo’s debut picture book as author/illustrator, working with Jen Besser and Cecilia Yung at G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Zebo happily resides in not-so-sunny North Port with her always sunny husband, Sam, and their three-legged, Jack Russell Terrier, Mouse.
Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times bestselling author, 5-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, and comic book writer. He writes in multiple genres including suspense, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and action; and he writes for adults, teens and middle grade. His works include the Joe Ledger thrillers, Glimpse, the Rot & Ruin series, the Dead of Night series, The Wolfman, X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate, Mars One, and many others. Several of his works are in development for film and TV. He is the editor of high-profile anthologies including The X-Files, V-Wars, Aliens: Bug Hunt, Out of Tune, Kingdoms Fall, Baker Street Irregulars, Nights of the Living Dead, and others. He lives in Del Mar, California. Find him online at www.jonathanmaberry.com
Melissa Manlove is a Senior Editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. She has been with Chronicle for 13 years. Her acquisitions tend to be all ages in nonfiction; ages 0-8 for fiction. When acquiring, she looks for fresh takes on familiar topics as well as the new and unusual. An effective approach and strong, graceful writing are important to her. She has 18 years of children’s bookselling experience.
Lorin Oberweger recently joined the Adams Literary Agency and is looking to build her list of clients. Lorin also is a highly sought-after independent book editor and ghostwriter with more than twenty-five years experience in publishing. Her company, Free Expressions, offers intensive, deep craft workshops nationwide, and her clients have placed work with every major publishing house and many important smaller presses. They have also gained representation with some of the industry’s leading literary agents. With bestselling author Veronica Rossi, Lorin is the author of the novels Boomerang, Rebound, and Bounce, published by Harper/William Morrow under the pen name Noelle August. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lin Oliver is a prolific children’s book author. With Henry Winkler, she writes the New York Times best-selling book series, Hank Zipzer: World’s Best Underachiever, which has sold over 4 million copies. Their chapter book series, Here’s Hank, is also a New York Times best-seller. Her two collections of poetry, both illustrated by Tomie de Paola, are the highly praised Little Poems for Tiny Ears, and the newly released Steppin’Out: Jaunty Rhymes for Playful Times. Her newest work is a chapter book series, The Fantastic Frame, five illustrated adventures set in the world’s great paintings. Lin is the co-founder and Executive Director of SCBWI, a world-wide organization of over 25,000 writers and illustrators of children’s books. She is a recipient of the prestigious Christopher Award and the Eric Carle Mentor Award. Learn more at www.linoliver.com. or follow Lin on Twitter @linoliver or on Instagram @linoliver22.
Sara Pennypacker is the award-winning author of twenty-three children’s books, including Pax, which was a New York Times #1 best seller, was long-listed for the National Book Award, and will be produced as a live-action film by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. She is the author of several novels, chapter books, and picture books, including the beloved Clementine series, the new Waylon books, Summer of the Gypsy Moths, and Meet the Dullards, to name a few. Her books have won numerous awards, including the Christopher Medal for Clementine’s Letter and the Golden Kite Award for Pierre in Love. Her books have also won many children’s choice state awards and have appeared on numerous “best books” lists. She splits her time between Florida and Massachusetts, where she feels lucky to write every day. She enjoys other things as well, like: bird watching, raising orchids, and bothering her kids even though they’re grown-ups now.
Nicole Resciniti has been listed by Publisher’s Marketplace as a top dealmaker in the country and and named ACFW’s 2012 Agent of the Year. She loves discovering new talent and helping established authors to take their career to the next level. A consummate science geek and card-carrying Mensa member, Nicole would love to find the next great science fiction/fantasy novel or acton/adventure masterpiece. Currently on her wish list: high concept middle grade, any kind of romance, and really fresh voices in YA.
Judy Schachner was born into an Irish Catholic working class family from New England. Money was tight and though she may not have had the easiest of childhoods, she credits her imagination with helping her survive it. She can’t ever remember a time when she was not drawing, and like most budding artists she doodled on everything, including her father’s bald head. She drew herself into stories where she was the smartest in her class and into a family where mothers lived to be a ripe old age. In many ways, Judy feels that her own life has resembled the fairy tales she loved reading as a child. She married a prince of a guy and they had two beautiful daughters and just like the mothers in her earliest tales, she plans on living to a ripe old age. Described by the New York Times as “… something like the James Joyce for the elementary-school set …” Judy is the #1 NY Times Best Author/Illustrator of over 25 books for children, including Dewey Bob, Bits & Pieces, the Skippyjon Jones series, Yo Vikings, The Grannyman, and Willy and May. She has won many awards including the first E.B. White Read Aloud Award. Her newest book is Sarabella’s Thinking Cap.
Marcia Wernick is a partner and literary agent at Wernick & Pratt Agency, LLC. She began her career more than 25 years ago working in subsidiary rights and still attends the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The agency represents authors and illustrators on a wide range of children’s books spanning all age groups and genres. Marcia works with both writers and illustrators, from picture book authors and/or illustrators through young adult writers. Her clients range from emerging talent to award winners and include Zebo Ludvicek, Alexandra Boiger, and Ed Masessa, as well as Mo Willems, Bryan Collier, and Diane Stanley.
Additional Critique Faculty
Toni Buzzeo is a New York Times bestselling children’s author. She has published twenty-four picture books for kids (with two more forthcoming) as well as eleven books for teachers and librarians. A former elementary school librarian and college an high school writing teacher, Toni and her books have won many awards, including a 2013 Caldecott Honor for One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small. Her characters are sometimes human and sometimes animals whose experiences echo those of human children. Either way, her characters are as lovable as the children Toni writes for. Toni lives in Arlington, Massachusetts just downstairs from her own two lovable grandbabies (endless sources of inspiration!) and their devoted parents. For more information about Toni and her books, visit www.tonibuzzeo.com.
Alex Flinn is is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels including Beastly, which has been made into a motion picture. She has six other fairy tale-based novels, A Kiss in Time, Cloaked, Bewitching, Towering, and Mirrored, a modern retelling of Snow White. Her first novel, Breathing Underwater, was named an ALA Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults and is the only novel included in Liz Clairborne’s “Love is Not Abuse” dating violence prevention curriculum for schools. Her books have received honors including Best Books for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, International Reading Association Young Adult Choices, and Junior Library Guild selection, as well as local and state readers’ choice awards. She is a non-practicing attorney who lives with her husband, daughters, and way too many pets in Miami, Florida. Sometimes, she jogs. Her novel, Beheld, is the latest book about the adventures of Kendra, a 300+ year old witch, who appeared in Beastly.
Fred Koehler is a writer, artist, and storyteller whose real-life misadventures include sunken boats, covert border crossings, and fighting off robbers in the dead of night. Whether free diving in the Gulf of Mexico or backpacking across Africa, Fred’s sense of adventure and awe of nature overflow into his characters’ stories. Between book projects, Fred also runs a highly sought after design studio, helping brands across the U.S. learn to tell their own stories. Fred is passionate about encouraging young artists and writers, promoting social justice, and conserving our environment. He lives in Florida with his wife, kids, and a rescue dog named Cheerio Mutt-Face McChubbybutt.
Frank Remkiewicz is an award-winning author and illustrator who has illustrated children’s books by many authors, including Alma Flor Ada and Betsy Byars. HIs self-illustrated works have met with positive critical reception, but he is perhaps best known as the illustrator for the Horrible Harry and Song Lee series, written by Suzy Kline, and the Froggy series, written by Jonathan London. Remkiewicz’s drawings have been described by Diane Roback of Publisher’s Weekly as “bold swatches of color crisply outlined”.”
Gloria Rothstein has been a switchboard operator, an Avon Lady, and a TV game show contestant. And she’s still hoping to add superhero, princess, and fairy godmother to her resume. She’s the author of Sheep Asleep (HarperCollins)—a picture book PBS Parents calls “hysterical;” Real-Life Writing Activities, Read Across America (Scholastic); “Curious George” cartoons; and more. Gloria has been a speaker at SCBWI Conferences, the Miami Book Fair, the Willow Theatre, and the Conference on Children’s Literature. She teaches writing workshops/camps at Sugar Sand, coaches writers, and has publishing credits with Children’s Television Workshop, Harcourt, Holt, Houghton Mifflin, Macmillan, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and others.
Joyce Sweeney is the author of fourteen novels for young adults and one chapbook of poetry. Her first novel, Center Line, won the First Annual Delacorte Press Prize for an Outstanding Young Adult Novel. Many of her books appear on the American Library Association’s Best Books List and Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. Her novel Shadow won the Nevada State Reading Award in 1997. Her novel Players was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Sports Book and by Working Mother magazine as a Top Ten for Tweens. Her novel Headlock (Holt 2006) won a Silver Medal in the 2006 Florida Book Awards and was chosen by the American Library Association as a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Her first chapbook of poems, Impermanence, was published in 2008 by Finishing Line Press. She has had numerous poems, short stories, articles, and interviews published; and her play First Page Critiques was produced in 2011. Joyce has also been a writing teacher and coach for twenty-five years, beginning with teaching five-week classes for the Florida Center for the Book, moving to ongoing invitation-only workshops and finally to online classes (www.sweeneywritingcoach.com) which reach students nationally and internationally. Developing strong bonds with the students she critiques and instructs is her hallmark. She believes that writers need emotional support as well as strong, craft-based teaching if they are to make the long, arduous, but very worthwhile journey to traditional publication. At this writing, sixty of Joyce’s students have successfully made this journey and obtained traditional publishing contracts.
Ruth Vander Zee is the author of several award-winning picture books, including Erika’s Story, Mississippi Morning, Always With You, Eli’s Story, and most recently Next Year, which received a starred review from Kirkus. The reviewer wrote, “Vander Zee’s poetic narrative, with its precise distillation and keen perception, brings the poverty and heartbreak of this time powerfully forward, while the story’s undercurrent of perseverance, strength of character, and, ultimately, respect and stewardship of the land give it hope.”